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5 Things No One Tells You When You Apply to Business School

December 20, 2015

You’ve taken the GMAT, reached out to your references, and polished your resume. You’ve probably done extensive research on what life as an MBA is like. But here are five things no one tells you when you apply to business school.

1. The B-school interview is more about how you learn than what you know.

If you’ve made it to the interview phase of the admissions process, chances are the school is extremely interested in your background and experience. Now they want to know how you will apply what you know in order to solve problems in school. So be yourself and embrace the interview as an opportunity to show off how your mind works. Just remember: If being yourself is off-putting to the admissions group, the school probably isn’t a good fit for you anyway.

2. Other applicants are freaking out about what to wear, too.

Before I started business school, I would wake up in the middle of the night pondering the ever-present mystery of “business casual” versus “business formal.” If that happens to you, you’re not alone. Once you get to business school, you’ll have other people to consult whenever you’re having a “What do I wear?!” moment. But for the interview, it’s best to keep it simple and streamlined. (Psst: The Etsuko in black works for every occasion.

business school

The Etsuko: your business school starter dress.

3. No one will care about your GMAT score once you get accepted.

Sure, if you’re applying to a big consulting firm, this may be a consideration. But with professors and everyone else in your cohort, they’re more interested in knowing who you are than what you scored. Once you’re in, you’re in.

4. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is just as important as IQ.

If you’re second-guessing your book-smarts, or if the idea of running regression analyses makes your stomach turn, take comfort in knowing that your emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is just as important in B-school as your actual intelligence. How well you handle frustrating situations, your ability to relate to and connect with others, and your overall self-awareness will be put to the test just as often as your quantitative skills. And here’s more good news: Studies find that women often have a slight edge over their male counterparts when it comes to EQ—so there’s a good chance you’ll be ahead of the curve.

5. You’ll still have “a life” in business school.

When I was applying to school, there was a lot of talk about work-life balance. I was fully prepared to never see my husband again and to surrender my life to schoolwork and studying. The truth is that you will—and you should—still find time for things that bring you joy. Pick a few priorities outside of your school life and make time for them, whether it’s training for a triathlon or traveling internationally. You may even find that your life shifts to include new friends or hobbies discovered in school. Your classes and homework are a temporary commitment, but seeking self-fulfillment is a lifelong habit. Don’t wait until after business school to start.

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Rachel Truair is a marketer, writer, and member of the University of Texas Executive MBA Class of 2016. When she's not exploring her hometown of Austin, Texas, she can be found traveling the world—trying to hit 40 countries by her 40th birthday. Read more of Rachel's posts.

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